This can be the yr that Zinedine Zidane lastly earns full recognition for his achievements as Real Madrid coach as a result of, if he guides this squad to Champions League glory following Wednesday’s 0-0 quarterfinal second-leg draw at Liverpool, will probably be his best triumph but.
Actual’s 3-1 victory in final week’s first-leg in Spain in the end supplied a snug cushion for the return fixture at Anfield and ebook a semifinal conflict later this month with Chelsea. In entrance of empty stands as soon as extra as a result of coronavirus pandemic, Zidane’s group stood agency in opposition to Liverpool’s attacking forays to edge one step nearer to successful a record-extending 14th European Cup.
“I will not say something, we’re alive within the two competitions [along with La Liga], we’re completely satisfied however we’ve not received something both. We have had robust moments however we’re right here on the finish of the season once you play for the whole lot and we now have to maintain going,” Zidane mentioned.
Liverpool created loads of possibilities to win the sport and the tie, however in contrast to their unbelievable 4-Zero Anfield win in opposition to Barcelona within the 2019 semifinal, the ball didn’t roll for Jurgen Klopp’s group on this event.
Actual, stuffed with expertise and know-how, merely held their nerve and obtained the job completed. And that in itself is testomony to the form of qualities that this group possesses, equivalent to sturdiness, endurance and tenacity, which have a tendency to not be related to Actual Madrid.
When Zidane guided the membership to a few successive Champions League titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018, it was a group of glittering abilities led by Cristiano Ronaldo and bolstered by Gareth Bale in his prime, with the defensive solidity of Pepe on the again. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos have been additionally a part of Zidane’s hat-trick of Champions League successes when every was on the peak of their careers.
However when Zidane’s Actual have been eradicated on the Spherical of 16 stage by Manchester City final season, it appeared as if the membership have been set for a interval of transition, with a brand new wave of gamers needing to purchased and blooded to interchange the previous guard. That also must occur with Kroos, Modric, Benzema and Ramos all of the flawed aspect of 30 years previous, however regardless of the plain decline of this Actual group from its heights throughout the later years of the final decade, Zidane has someway obtained them to a Champions League semifinal.
“It is the character they’ve. They all the time need extra, the extra difficulties the group has, the extra they arrive collectively. After that, we now have greater than sufficient high quality after all, but it surely’s the character the gamers have,” Zidane mentioned of his gamers.
Liverpool, regardless of their home issues in a season when a number of key accidents have de-railed their Premier League title defence, stay a risk in Europe and Klopp’s group may have received this tie comfortably had they taken their second-leg possibilities. However Zidane and Actual nonetheless got here via the take a look at and they’re going to now imagine that they will as soon as once more emerge as European champions this season.
They are going to hope to have captain Ramos match and accessible for the tie in opposition to Chelsea, with the centre-half lacking this tie because of damage earlier than testing optimistic for COVID-19 and Raphael Varane, who missed each legs of this tie due to the virus, can even doubtless be again to face Thomas Tuchel’s aspect.
So Actual go ahead figuring out that they are going to be stronger. However though Benzema continues to be a world-class centre-forward, with 20-year-old Vinicius Junior providing tempo alongside the Frenchman, this Actual group lacks the journey and star high quality of its predecessors. It’s a extra prosaic group, with out an apparent clutch participant, so Zidane should discover a method to make sure that Actual can overcome Chelsea earlier than a remaining in opposition to both Metropolis or Paris Saint-Germain.
And that’s the problem which, if achieved, will elevate Zidane to a special degree as a coach. It could additionally make him the primary coach to win 4 European Cups, so historical past really beckons for the 48-year-old.
Chelsea, with simply two defeats in 18 video games below Tuchel, won’t concern this Actual group, however their dismantling of Liverpool within the first-leg will function a warning to the Stamford Bridge aspect. Liverpool allowed Kroos far an excessive amount of time and area to trigger havoc together with his passing and so they have been caught out by the tempo of Vinicius.
However Actual’s shortcomings on the again have been additionally uncovered by Liverpool in each legs and it required a commanding second-half efficiency by former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to maintain Liverpool at bay.
Zidane can be completely satisfied to be going through Chelsea within the subsequent spherical somewhat than Metropolis or PSG, nonetheless. On current kind, Metropolis and PSG would go right into a tie in opposition to Actual as favourites, however in a one-off recreation within the remaining in Istanbul, few would write Actual off. When he guided Actual to glory on these three earlier events, Zidane knew he was answerable for the most effective group in Europe and so they proved that every time.
This season, Actual are one of many outsiders and it’s an unfamiliar place for them to be in, which is why will probably be all of the extra particular, and vital, if Zidane can mastermind yet one more Actual Madrid Champions League triumph.